Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

August 14, 2013

‘Clean living’ storm troopers are running wild

Morality is relative. Rules and laws change at the whims of society and the public. What is true of one generation may be false to the next.

In “The Republic,” Plato said “Justice is the virtue that enables wisdom, courage, and temperance to flourish in harmony.”

George Orwell’s Big Brother (Cumberland Housing Authority), disregarding the right of privacy to tenants in residential apartment buildings, is poised to implement a rabid crusade targeting smokers.

Thomas Hanlin, a U.S. veteran, objects, citing a violation of his constitutional rights (“Queen City Towers resident objects to smoking ban,” Aug. 9 Times-News).

I agree with Hanlin, a tenant for 14 years in the Queen City Towers.

Mr. Hanlin likes to smoke in the privacy of his apartment and defies the powers that be.

Who are these people that unilaterally decide what is right or wrong? Smokers aren’t arsonists or super-evil criminals intent on corrupting their neighbors.

I do not defend the use of tobacco products. Smoking is foolish, unhealthy, and expensive — a bad habit.

Nevertheless, there was a time when smoking cigarettes was considered chic, fashionable, even sophisticated. Remember those old movies with Bette Davis; Clark Gable, and others.

Remember the macho Marlboro man on TV? All consigned to perdition now.

More recently, note the constant puffing on the great series Mad Man. FDR had his cigarette holder, JFK his cigars, Churchill, too.

Smoking in the White House? Scandalous! The Housing Authority must evict such horrible role models!

I have just finished my second cigarette writing this rebuttal. I am not proud of my behavior, but who dares to evict a senior citizen from his home?

The “clean living” storm troopers are about — intent on making political refugees of millions of Americans.

The right to privacy has been invaded by unreasonable restraints.

Whom is Mr. Hanlin offending in his apartment? Whom is he threatening in the sanctity of his living quarters? He fought for our country; now he has to fight for his inalienable rights — liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Ironic, isn’t it?

There was a time, not so long ago, when homosexuals were spat upon and cursed by the general public — unfortunately.

Today, we hold celebratory parades for them. Smokers, pariahs of society, have been shoved into the closet and regarded as demons, exiled by the masses.

I want a parade for heterosexual smokers. Mr. Hanlin and I will lead — no doubt jeered and stigmatized by throngs of “clean living” citizens. Martyrdom is not appealing to me.

Many years ago, a friend and colleague of mine was dying of leukemia in the hospital. She asked the doctor if she could have a cigarette before she died.

Oh, oh, ethical dilemma!

They removed the oxygen paraphernalia from her room, carried her to the bathroom, locked the door; she had her final cigarette, for she died the next day.

True story. Who among us would deny her that last request? I thanked the medical staff profusely for their compassion and humanity, which is in such short supply today.

James D. Zamagias

Cumberland

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